Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
nice .... but for completists
on 4 February 2014
As a fan of early Soft Machine, and with very few exceptions not their post-Wyatt output, this seemed like a no-brainer. But half of it (Moon In June and Slow Walkin' Talk) has been issued before - though I didn't actually have SWT. If you're a Wyatt/Softs completist the chances are you do already have those two tracks and are therefore shelling out for the first half of the album only. If you're NOT a Wyatt/Softs completist I'd say it's a bit marginal. It IS interesting and at times quite entertaining to hear Robert overdubbing himself on these demos, and playing piano and organ at considerable length at a time when he was otherwise only recorded as a drummer. But they ARE demos, and despite the excellent quality recording, they mostly sound like it - and of course demos means songs subsequently recorded properly for release. Chelsa and Slow Walkin' Talk, if not brilliant (especially the former) are at least pretty different from the Wyatt solo/Matching Mole songs they later became, and the latter features Jimi Hendrix on bass (for monster Hendrix completists!) giving it a nice and unmistakeably Hendrixesque swing, but MIJ, though a very good version, isn't that different from the version on Third, especially once the full Soft Machine join in on the second half - and you probably already own this version, though here it is in considerably better sound quality. Which leaves Rivmic Melodies. This suite of little songs became most of side 1 of Soft Machine's second album. Overall, it's certainly better by the full band, but this version is more eccentric, A Concise British Alphabet is a lot less concise and there's lot's of entertainingly mad piano on it. It's certainly the best reason for buying this album.
Overall, I'm just a little bit underwhelmed by it - definitely worth releasing and hangs together well as an album, but not the Wyatt/Softs holy grail by any means. 3.5 stars.